NFL WEEK 1: Our official predictions for who wins this weekend

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Ronald Martinez/Getty

Football is back!

After an offseason that saw Peyton Manning retire, Tom Brady get suspended, the Rams move to Los Angeles, Robert Griffin III move to Cleveland, and Tim Tebow join the … Mets (?!), football is once again back in our lives.

And oh how we’ve missed it.

Last year, as you will fondly recall, I wrote a column each Thursday in which I picked every NFL game against the spread, and tried to offer some accompanying (and maybe even insightful) observations about football and the games.

As many of my kind readers pointed out over the course of the season, I would have been just as well off flipping a coin for each pick, as my record of 126-113-8 (note: above .500!) was unimpressive. As always, thank you for reading and thank you for the feedback.

The thing is, last year I was nothing more than an untested rookie, and like all rookies I occasionally stumbled over the course of the season (I picked the Ravens to beat the Broncos? I suggested the Browns start Johnny Manziel?). More importantly, I also gained a ton of experience.

And this year, my goal is simple: beat my record against the spread from last season.

Let’s do it!

(All lines courtesy of Vegas Insider.)


Carolina Panthers (-3) at Denver Broncos, (Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. ET)

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Streeter Lecka/Getty

In case you’re skeptical of my analysis because of my underwhelming record from last season (and I will look forward to the very supportive fan mail in the coming months) remember that that I did indeed correctly predictthe Broncos to beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl.

But I won’t bet against Cam Newton twice. The Broncos lost too many key pieces on defense, by now you’ve read aboutfuture real estate brokerTrevor Siemian’s inexperience in the NFL, and so forth. This has all the makings of a Revenge Game, as you will likely hear 47 times tonight during the pre-game.

The pick: Panthers -3


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) at Atlanta Falcons (Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET)

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NFL: Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Thomson Reuters

Well, Jameis Winston is supposedly In The Best Shape Of His Life, so that settles this one.

The pick: Bucs +3


Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at Tennessee Titans (Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET)

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Steve Dykes/Getty

Giving up a first round pick for Sam Bradford was … not great.

The pick: Titans +2.5


Cleveland Browns (+4) at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET)

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Jason Miller/Getty

Carson Wentz vs. RG3! These are two of the five worst teams in the league, and I think Wentz – with few targets – struggles in his debut.

The pick: Browns +4


Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) at New York Jets (Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET)

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Elsa/Getty Images

Congrats to all those Jets/Mets fans who thought they had rid themselves of Tim Tebow. He’s baaack!

The pick: Bengals -2.5


Oakland Raiders (+1) at New Orleans Saints (Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET)

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Jared Wickerham/Getty

The Raiders bandwagon isn’t quite as full as the Jags’ this season, but it’s still pretty jammed in here.

The pick: Raiders +1


San Diego Chargers (+6.5) at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET)

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Donald Miralle/Getty

I’m taking the Chiefs, and when they fail to cover I’ll chalk it up to not knowing anything about anyone in the first week.

The pick: Chiefs -6.5


Buffalo Bills (+3) at Baltimore Ravens (Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET)

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Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Rex Ryan … first coach to be fired?

The Pick: Ravens -3


Green Bay Packers (-5.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET)

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Ronald Martinez/Getty

This should be a fun one, which has to be the first time I’ve ever said that about a Jaguars game. Let’s see if the hype around this team is real. Packers win this in a close one.

The pick: Jags +5.5


Chicago Bears (+6) at Houston Texans (Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET)

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty

Going straight to the pick here…

The pick: Houston -6


Detroit Lions (+3.5) at Indianapolis Colts (Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET)

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Andy Lyons/Getty

… And here.

The pick: Lions +3.5


Miami Dolphins (+10) at Seattle Seahawks (Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET)

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

*Bill Simmons voice* Are we sure Ryan Tannehill is good?

The pick: Seahawks -10


New York Giants (PK) at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET)

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Jeff Zelevansky/Getty

Ugh, the Giants are going to figure out a way to mismanage the clock late in the 4th quarter and blow this one, aren’t they?

The pick: Giants


New England Patriots (+6) at Arizona Cardinals (Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET)

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Jim Rogash/Getty

Cards win, Pats cover in garbage time. But think for a moment: how surreal will it be watching the Pats in prime-time without Brady?

The pick: Patriots +6


Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at Washington Redskins (Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET)

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Don Wright/AP

Imagine how good the Steelers would be if everyone could stay on the field for an entire season!

The pick: Steelers -3


Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at San Francisco 49ers (Monday at 10:20 p.m. ET)

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Harry How/Getty

The great thing about the NFL is that nobody is forcing you to watch every game.

The pick: Rams -2.5


Now check out our weekly power rankings…

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Ezra Shaw/Getty

NFL POWER RANKINGS: Where all 32 teams stand going into Week 1 >